Drug Awareness -- What is Drug Abuse?
Drug Abuse is a chronic disease affecting the brain, and just about everyone is different. Drugs affect different people in different ways. One person can take and abuse drugs, yet never become addicted, while another merely has one experience and is immediately hooked. Drug Addiction is characterized by a person having to use the drug(s) repeatedly, regardless of the damage it does to:
- Their health
- Their family
- Their career
- Their relationships with friends and the community
Addiction is not limited to drugs and alcohol. People can be addicted to many things, such as food, gambling, shopping, or most anything that gets in the way of a healthy lifestyle. When things get out of hand, and people behave compulsively, regardless of the consequences.
When the person is no longer in charge of their life, regardless of the triggering mechanism, they are addicted. The addiction can take over a person’s entire life. Nothing else matters.
Is there a cure?
The first question many people have about Drug Addiction is simply “Is there a cure?” The answer is, sadly, no, once you HAVE to use a drug you will always be addicted to it. There is currently no pill you can take to remove your cocaine addiction. In order to get a more complete understanding of why there is no cure, you first have to take a deeper look at addiction to learn how to live with it.
What's the difference between Drug Abuse and addiction?
The next question generally ask is how can I tell drug abuse from addiction. That's a little more complicated:
Click here to learn the differences between drug abuse and addiction.
Addiction is a disease of the mind body and SPIRIT
Let’s establish one important point of understanding about addiction. We are body, mind and spirit, and because of that, Addiction is as much a disease of the spirit as it is of the body and mind. Unlike other chronic diseases, like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, the spiritual component of Addiction will play a major role in a person’s recovery.
What Causes Drug Addiction?
There are several factors and causes to consider. First there is a genetic component, that is, what is passed on to you through your family.
- If your blood relatives had a predisposition to become addicted, chances are you have that same tendency.
- Personality contributes to Drug Abuse and addiction.
- Peer pressure is huge, both for teenagers and adults alike.
Drug Addiction occurs when the pathways in the brain, the brain’s communication system, are altered by repeated use of a substance. Some of the brain’s nerve cells, called neurons, use chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are released into the gaps, called synapses, between nerve cells.
Take it to an extreme. There is normal brain chemistry activity, but when that activity is affected by the drug, the internal communication is altered, creating an otherwise abnormal affect.
If you were to abuse the pain medication by going way over the prescribed limit and frequency, because you need that drug, you are becoming addicted.
Addiction is a chronic condition, making the chances for relapse great. The drug takes over and the person loses control and will do anything to get the drug, regardless of the consequences.
What might have started as a decision to use the drug for a proper, medical purpose now becomes a spiraling, out-of-control experience for the user. Otherwise intelligent, rational people lose their ability to make good decisions.
The drug has taken over.
Addiction causes permanent changes in brain chemistry
Because of the change in the brain’s chemistry and function, it’s very difficult for people who are addicted to stop using; that's what is so difficult.
Treatment centers around the country have found that a combination of medications, along with behavioral therapy is the most effective way of helping the patient manage the disease.
Treatment centers will tailor-made a program to meet the needs of patients seeking help. We are body, mind and spirit. Medicine can effectively treat the body and the mind, but medicine alone does not treat the spirit.
Relapse is VERY common
Are there going to be setbacks? Yes. Human beings make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean a person can’t get back on course.
Even if people relapse they need to be reinstated to the program, to get back to sanity and allow therapists to make necessary adjustments to their meds, or seek help in making modifications to their lifestyle. Perhaps an alternative treatment is called for. Again, everyone is different, and so treatment programs must meet the needs of the individual. The more you understand the more you realize why it is so difficult to treat.
Are Drug Addiction and Drug Abuse the Same?
No. Understand that addiction and drug abuse are not the same, because not all people who take drugs become addicted. The most commonly used drug is alcohol, and alcohol addiction, like Drug Abuse, progresses in stages, as a person descends into drug or alcohol dependence, hits bottom, then ascends back up to good health. It’s a process.
Not everybody that uses drugs is on the path to becoming an addict. Some people can abuse drugs, but not become addicted, while others try drugs or alcohol once and are immediately hooked.
Alcoholics talk about the “click,” that experience of satisfaction when taking the first drink. Drug users experience a “high” or a kind of euphoria. In either case, they want to feel good, and the drugs make them feel good. But it gets out of hand.
What are the signs of drug abuse or addiction?
The symptoms vary. Perhaps it’s just trying something with friends at a party, or maybe a person hurts and they want to numb the pain.
It can start most any way, and some drugs are more addictive than others, but once the progression reaches the point where a person needs the drugs because of a physical dependence and compulsively works to get them, regardless of the impact on their friends and family, their job and their community, that person’s life is out of control.
Drug addition does not discriminate. It affects men and women of all ages; seniors, career-aged, young adults, teenagers and even children. The affects of drug and alcohol addiction impact all of society.
Pills; Suburbia's Pastime
This is the story of my addiction to pills from age 14 to 16, along with
the drinking I did as well. I started doing pills due to medical
reasons, but what the doctor gave me never did do the trick. I thought I
was going to be in pain my whole life, so I was willing to try anything
to stop it.
Living in a small town, the teenagers would get bored easily. Pills were the multi-purpose thing. Wanted to "relax", have more energy the ever before... Well to us drugs were a life-saver, what an oxymoron.
It started as me just wanting freedom from my pain. I now know it was a path that could have killed me many a time. I kept upping the amount more and more. I went from self medicating to using them as my party drug, my escape, it was all such a thrill to me.
I decided to go big one night, trying to prove myself and friends I was invincible, I popped one pill after another, giggling away.
Then I felt sick, really sick. When I started panicking I told my friend "I think I took too many, please take me home, I need my mom." He just laughed and said "I hate babysitting." I started to panic, and that is when I blacked out.
I was in catatonic state, unable to speak, and my friend carried me like a rag doll. Still they did not take me home thinking I would just sober up, and their fear for getting arrested. I don't know how I got home, but I do know my mom just found me in the kitchen lifeless looking. She thought I was joking until she saw my eyes, almost no color was visible. She didn't know what happened, nor could I tell her.
I started waking up in an ambulance. They were asking me why I tried to kill myself. I didn't ever want to kill myself, but there I was in the hospital saying goodbyes just in case I didn't make it.
My mother crying, my father shaking his head, and my brother stared with sympathy. I recovered luckily, I stayed there for 18 hours. Once I got out of the hospital I knew my life HAD to change. I left those "friends" behind as they did to me that night.
I now live a happy, healthy life. I replaced the drugs with hobbies, I learned drugs are not hobbies. Now I get my thrills from playing music, dancing, and even fire-eating! I decided I needed thrills in my life, but something I can be proud of.